Disclaimer: I make no claims on intellectual property belonging to JK Rowling and James H Schmitz nor is this being used for commercial purposes.
Harry stared blankly at the inside of his cupboard. He'd been locked in for a lot longer than he'd ever been before. Usually it'd be a day, maybe two when the Dursley's went away for the weekend, but it'd been at least a week this time.
He'd rationed the little food he'd managed to hide and his Aunt had never discovered that one of the old bleach containers in the back of the cleaning supplies only held water, but even that hadn't lasted more than a couple of days. The constant gnawing hunger he'd felt had faded into a dull ache and a weakness in his limbs that worried him a little, but the grey mist in the corners of his vision distracted him from thinking of it too much.
He watched the mist as it ebbed and surged, like a particularly foggy day, but there were spots of darkness in it with tiny glints of light, paired like eyes.
He'd been seeing it a lot lately, even in the dark when he shouldn't have been able to see anything.
He shivered and pulled his threadbare blanket around him as the mist suddenly flooded his tiny room and he tried to swim as he heard countless voices speaking at once. He felt like he was floating and he weakly flailed at the mist, but hit nothing, not even the walls of his cupboard.
That final surge of movement made his eyes grow heavy and his last thought before it all went dark was, 'I wish I was with people who'd care for me, who are freaks like me.'
Toll turned her head as she heard or rather felt a roaring sound as someone arrived via the Egger Route in her garden. She didn't even need to feel the slight tingle of premonition to know it was important, few travel the Egger Route when it wasn't.
She hurried upstairs and out onto her roof, eyes scanning the rows of root vegetables until she spotted a small emaciated form sprawled in the dirt.
Toll sprinted the few feet needed to reach the tiny figure and dove onto it, wrapping her arms and legs around it so it wouldn't harm itself in the convulsions that would follow. Several minutes later when the convulsions failed to make an appearance, she loosened her grip and quickly checked the poor child to make sure they were alive.
It was a small dark haired boy with a bleeding wound on his brow and a small knot of klatha in his chest. She could detect his vitals, but they were weak. She quickly tossed a line to Calla, 'I have a young child in need of serious help, he looks to have been starved and his vitals are low. He swam the Egger Route, he has a knot of Klatha in his chest, and a small cut on his brow.'
Calla sent a feeling of assurance back along the line with undertones of concern and curiosity.
Toll carried the young boy inside to the living room and set him on the couch. She reached out and called a wash rag to her hand that she pressed against his forehead to stem the bleeding. She'd barely taken a look at the odd klatha construct in his chest when she relled Calla arrive, slipping through the front door with a black leather healer's bag in hand.
"I'm here!" Calla called out, the red-haired healer quickly running to the living room. She dropped to her knees next to the couch, her bag opened and a dozen small black disks leapt out and attached themselves to the boy seemingly of their own volition.
Toll stepped back and let Calla work uninterrupted, watching as the blood on the boy's forehead dissolved at a touch and the wound beneath it vanished, the flesh pulling together and smoothing out, leaving no trace of injury.
After a few seconds of thought she went to make a pot of tea, the line connecting her to Calla assured her the healer had things well in hand or at least enough to require no assistance.
Calla entered the kitchen a few minutes later, just as Toll was pouring the tea. "I don't know where the young man comes from, but I'm guessing he was a street urchin, probably in one of the core worlds of the empire."
"Not enough sun, starvation, old injuries," Toll listed off, "not to mention the rags he's wearing."
"Exactly," she agreed, taking a sip of tea. "Not sure how he knew to come here, I'm guessing a strong premonition."
"Strong enough to tell him where to go and how to swim the Egger Route?" Toll asked.
"He's got a pattern on him, though I don't recognize who it's from," Calla admitted. "I did my best to strengthen it, but the construct in his chest absorbed nearly three quarters of any klatha I pushed into him, so it took several tries to get it functioning again."
"I've never seen a klatha construction like that before," Toll said, "any idea what its purpose is?"
"I'm not certain," Calla replied, "but I believe it's meant to keep him healthy."
"Doesn't look like it did a very good job," Toll said with a frown. The blonde haired woman leaned back in her seat and mentally went over the list of witches who'd been lost in the last decade, wondering who's child he was.
"We don't know what conditions he lived under," Calla pointed out, "and the moment it started absorbing klatha his vital signs strengthened."
"Might be a handy thing to learn then," she decided, casting her thoughts out and finding The Leewit was on her way home, having had a successful hunt.
"Not likely," Calla said with a sigh, "at the rate it draws in klatha you'd need over a dozen witches to weave it. It's woefully inefficient as a means of healing, much easier just to weave the patterns yourself."
"I wonder why they did that then," Toll said, changing the list she was mentally reviewing to ones where multiple witches had vanished and coming up blank.
"We'll have to wait until he regains consciousness," Calla said.
"How long do you think that will be?" Toll asked.
There was a loud crash as The Leewit stormed into the house. The little grey eyed blonde dropped a haunch of meat on the table half the size of her ten year old frame with a wide grin before stopping and frowning. "Why do I rell a vatch?"
Harry awoke with a start as he heard a loud crash and stared around himself in confusion. This wasn't his cupboard. In fact this was as far as it was possible to be from the cramped little space he called home.
He looked around the living room, noting the hardwood floors, fireplace, and comfortable furniture. It all looked so much more… home-like than the Dursley's not to mention of a quality that they could never afford.
A pair of women came in from another room, both of them the type that would have sent Petunia into a frenzy of gossip, as they were young, beautiful, and… healthy, with tans that said they spent a good deal of time in the sun.
Harry tilted his head as they spoke to one another in a language he didn't know. "I'm sorry, I didn't understand a word of that. Do you speak English?"
The blonde woman turned and called out something, summoning a girl that looked to be about Harry's age with blonde hair and grey eyes, probably her daughter if Harry had to guess. After speaking to each other for a few seconds she turned to Harry clearly expecting something.
"What?" Harry asked. "I don't speak your language and unless you learn mine in the next few minutes we're kinda outta luck here."
"I only need a few seconds," the girl replied smugly. "I'm The Leewit. Who are you and how'd you get here?"
"You speak English?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Is that the name of the language we're speaking?" The Leewit asked before continuing, "I can learn any language from just hearing a few words, it's a gift. Now, who are you and how'd you get here?"
"Um," he said nervously, "I'm Harry Potter… and I don't know where I am. I was locked in my… room…" he was finding it hard to lie while facing those piercing grey eyes, "and it'd been some time since I'd eaten… I kept seeing grey fog… and I woke up here." His stomach growled loudly.
The Leewit grabbed his hand and dragged him out of the room, calling something in another language to the two women but not pausing as she drug him to the kitchen where an enormous amount of meat laid on the table. "Have a seat, I'll have something ready for you in a moment."
"Huh?" Harry asked, confused as she pushed him into a seat.
The Leewit started bustling around the kitchen, setting water on the stove to boil and putting bread in the toaster. Using an electric butler would be faster, but her mother insisted they were too impersonal to prepare food correctly and although she didn't admit it aloud, she agreed with her. "I'm going to make you something to eat," The Leewit told him.
"You don't have to," Harry instantly replied, ignoring the hunger that was once more gnawing at his stomach and making his hands tremble.
"I'm aware of that," The Leewit replied and continued her work.
Harry didn't have a reply to that so stayed silent. The older women poked their heads in and said a few words in their own language which The Leewit answered just as firmly as she'd spoken to him and they withdrew. In a few seconds Harry found a bowl of oatmeal, a glass of milk, and a pair of buttered soldiers being set in front of him, making him wonder if he'd fallen asleep for a couple of minutes and missed her preparing them.
"Eat slowly, start with the toast," The Leewit ordered.
Harry found himself obeying despite his stomach's own command to wolf everything down and gnaw on the meat. The jam on the toast tasted like a combination of blueberries and ice which was a surprise, but quite nice while the milk tasted just like unpasteurized milk should. He found himself looking to the young girl for permission before starting in on the oatmeal, which she gave with an approving nod, sitting across from him with a cup of tea and watching him eat. Even taking his time under her watchful eye he was done in a short amount of time.
"This was very good, thank you," he said politely.
"I'm glad you liked it," she replied with a sharp nod. "Now, how did you come so close to dying? Mom and Calla are guessing you are a street urchin from one of the over developed core worlds."
"Worlds?" Harry asked, confused.
"Planets," The Leewit said bluntly.
"I don't know what you mean," Harry said, shaking his head, "we've only got the one planet."
The Leewit stared at him for a moment before nodding. "Looks like you're a bit far from home then, in time as well as space. Take a peek outside and then come sit back down."
"Erm… Okay," he agreed, getting up and walking to the kitchen door.
The Leewit waited until Harry returned several seconds later looking stunned.
"This isn't Earth," he told her, falling back into his seat.
"No, mankind left Earth thousands of years ago," The Leewit told him.
"Did something happen?" he asked.
"No," she shook her head, "there were just tons of uninhabited worlds with all the resources you can imagine scattered about, so everyone left. Most people aren't even sure where it is anymore."
"Oh," Harry said quietly, a bit disappointed. It wasn't like he'd wanted some big disaster to drive humanity off the Earth, but mankind moving away because another planet had better housing prices and was metaphorically closer to the shops just seemed wrong somehow.
"If you're from Earth, you've moved in time as well as space… unless some cult set up shop there, which I kinda doubt," The Leewit told him, "because we would have noticed."
"How did I get here?" Harry asked, completely at a loss, while he'd like to think he'd been sent off somewhere by the Dursley's while he was unconscious, the blue black trees and bus sized cattle with shiny black hides said he was nowhere on Earth.
"You swam the Egger Route," the Leewit replied.
"I don't know how to swim," Harry said, latching onto the only bit of what she'd said that made sense.
"How in Monander's oily butt crack did you manage to make it to eight without learning how to swim?!" she demanded.
"I'm ten," Harry quickly corrected her, annoyed.
The Leewit looked him over intently, making him squirm. "How long they been starving you?"
Harry winced, not liking talking about the Dursleys, but could tell his usual dodges wasn't going to work. "They're pretty good at stopping short of actually starving me… mostly."
"So about ten years then," she said. "What's your story?"
"Um, that's about it," Harry said with a shrug. "Parents died in a car accident that gave me the scar on my forehead, dropped with relatives that hated me… and now here I am, somehow."
"And they locked you in a room and starved you near to death until in desperation you managed to swim the Egger Route without knowing what it was," The Leewit said.
"I guess so," Harry said with a shrug.
"Well, welcome to Karres," she said, "no one here is going to starve you or lock you up, so it's a lot clumping better than your last planet."
"So… What do I do now?" Harry asked, completely lost in space and time as well as what to do next.
The Leewit shrugged. "Get stronger, learn to swim, come with me hunting. You know, kid's stuff."
"But… Where will I live?"
"Well, since my older sister Goth decided to get herself older you can use her bed," The Leewit replied. "Doubt her clothes will fit you, but making you some new stuff is a breeze."
"You're going to accept me… just like that?" Harry asked, feeling his throat swell and his eyes water, but trying not to show it.
"I'm not a probability reader, but you really only need those for reading other people's futures, so I can tell you I don't feel any problems with you staying here," The Leewit replied, pretending not to notice the way his emotions were hitting her. She was pretty sure no one had spent even five minutes explaining to him how to center himself and not bleed his emotions all over everyone in the area. "I'll go let Mom know I decided you're taking Goth's place."
Harry laughed, thinking she was joking, wiped his eyes on the sleeve of the baggy and well worn T-shirt he was wearing as she left.
The Leewit stepped into the living room, knowing her Mom and Calla were filled with questions and she probably only had answers for a handful of them, which were no doubt going to raise more questions than they answered. Thankfully the Elder witches had patience, far more than she had she knew.
"His name is Harry Potter and he's ten years old, but thanks to being repeatedly starved by his relatives, his development has been stunted. They locked him in his room and left him to starve, as usual, but it went on longer than he was used to. Not sure if it was a deliberate murder attempt or not. He swam the Egger Route, not knowing what it was, through time as well as space. He's from Earth before they even colonized Mars. I've decided to keep him around and fatten him up. I figure he can stay in Goth's bed so I can keep an eye on him."
"I see," Toll said, taking care not to radiate amusement. "Did you have a premonition about him?"
"Not as such," The Leewit admitted, "just a feeling, plus I'm the only one who speaks his language and he looks like someone that needs looking after."
"He does at that," Calla agreed, returning the tablet she'd been using to monitor his health to her medical bag. "Whatever the construct in his chest is, it seems to be doing an amazing job of repairing the damage he's suffered. As long as you make sure to stuff him full of food for the foreseeable future he should be alright. I'll check in on him in a few days once you've fattened him up a little."
The Leewit nodded and pursed her lips to keep from smiling as she turned and practically raced out of the room.
"At least she's not announcing to the entire enclave she's decided to marry him," Calla teased her friend.
Toll chuckled. "My line has the fortunate luck to find our men early, but it's a bit soon to assume that's the case here. I'm just glad she's found someone to spend time with, she's been rather lonely since Goth moved out, grew up, and got married."
Calla gestured and there was an exclamation of surprise as a swarm of small black disks flew into the room and nested in her bag. "I'll give him a few days to settle in before I return to give him a thorough going over. Try and get me his full story before then if you can."
"I'll do that," Toll assured her before seeing her out.
As she returned to the kitchen she found her daughter using a finger to float a tea cup to the wide eyed young man and decided to go up on the roof and do some gardening instead, she was sure her youngest could take care of things for now.
Typing By: Abyssal Angel
AN: I loved The Witches of Karres when I was a kid and rereading it so I could write a crossover I found that I still do, but James H Schmitz defined next to nothing about the technology they used or even the abilities the witches had. I am going to have to make up a lot of it to fill in the blanks. This story is going to be based on the one book James wrote, not the rest of the series which was written by other authors, though I think they did a good job. Read and Review, thanks!